|Stevie Wonder’s cousin to stand trial|
|Monday, 16 July 2012 10:04|
Attorneys for Walker, who is Wonder’s cousin, and Tamara argued that prosecutors hadn’t presented enough evidence to support the case. Walker’s attorney, Ian Wallach, said his client had made a movie about his own life, was marketing it for sale and his actions were protected by the First Amendment.
A police detective described the film as an 80-minute rant against Wonder. Portions of it were filmed in the former home of the singer’s late mother, which is now dilapidated, and it also shows Wonder’s son, who the musician is protective of. Walker (38) accused the musician of being “a slumlord” and made derogatory comments about the singer’s mother, two witnesses said. Walker and Diaz have pleaded not guilty and Wallach has said his client is innocent.
Wonder did not testify. Throughout the hearing, he was referred to by his real name, Stevland Morris.
Benjamin, who interviewed Wonder for the case, said the singer was hurt by Walker’s accusations and said they were untrue. She said Wonder stated that paying his cousin money would be the only way to keep it from being sold to a news outlet and embarrassing him and his family.
“He explained that when something like this is released to the media, it is presumed to be true,” Benjamin said. Wonder’s attorney William Briggs II said he watched much of the film but stopped when it showed footage of Wonder’s son, who has mental issues that were not described in court. He said Walker initially told him he wanted US$5 million for the footage, but later agreed to a US$500 000 payment.
Briggs said Walker also made claims that Wonder had “possibly engaged in an incestuous relationship”.
With more than two dozen officers monitoring the hamburger restaurant where the group held their final meeting, Walker and Diaz signed their initials on the agreement and were quickly arrested.
Wallach and Diaz’s attorney, Alex Sario questioned whether Briggs, who recorded his conversations with the defendants, had worked with police to craft a confidentiality agreement that would prove extortion. Briggs said several of the words included in the document, including “fear”, “embarrassing” and “private” came directly from Wonder, but that he also included language given to jurors deciding extortion cases.
Briggs said he wanted to see if Walker and Diaz, who was arrested with a list of things she hoped to do with the money they received, would carry out their plan.